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|Signatures on this item|
|*The value given for each signature has been calculated by us based on the historical significance and rarity of the signature. Values of many pilot signatures have risen in recent years and will likely continue to rise as they become more and more rare.|
Commander Mike Crosley DSC* Royal Navy (deceased)
*Signature Value : £35
|Robert Michael Crosley was born on February 24 1920 , Mike Crosley was a Metropolitan Police constable (a reserved occupation) when war broke out, but volunteered on the day of the Fleet Air Arm strike on Taranto, November 11 1940. Fleet Air Arm Ace Mike Crosley joined the carrier HMS Eagle in late 1941, one of four FAA pilots flying Sea Hurricanes in defence of the Malta convoys, On June 12 he was on alert on the deck of HMS Eagle. After two hours strapped in his cockpit, he was expecting to stand down when he heard the klaxon sound. Within a few moments he was airborne, being directed by radar to an enemy aircraft; and when his flight leader turned back with engine trouble, Crosley decided to pursue the enemy alone. He closed until the wingspan of the three-engined Italian bomber filled his gunsight, then pressed the trigger. At that moment he noted sparks coming from the underside of the bomber – it was the enemy returning fire. Then smoke burst from the Italians engines and its wingtip came dangerously close as it dived towards the sea. Crosley followed, determined to finish it off; but as he emerged from the cloud he saw the bomber floating on the water with a yellow life raft beside it. The next day Crosley shot down a twin-engined German fighter-bomber. He wove in and out of the Germans slipstream, and when the target filled his gunsight he fired one long burst which hit the aircrafts wing, "sparking like firecrackers". In August 1942, during Operation Pedestal, he was lucky to escape with his life after the carrier was torpedoed and sunk by U73. She capsized within 7 minutes. He later joined HMS Biter flying Sea Hurricanes, in Operation Torch. and on November 8 he shot down two Vichy French fighters in a dogfight over the airfield of La Senia, near Oran. He was awarded his first DSC. Mike Crosley was then selected to pass on his experience to new fighter pilots at HMS Dipper, near Yeovilton, where he flew the Royal Navys version of the Spitfire, known as the Seafire. By D-Day Crosley had joined 886 Naval Air Squadron, flying Seafires from Lee-on-the-Solent. His role was to direct the fire of the heavy ships which were bombarding the German defences. On the second day of the Allied landings he shot down a German Bf109, which crashed 15 miles south-west of Caen, and two days later damaged an Fw190 which he chased in a dogfight through the skies over Normandy. After D-Day Mike Crossley was appointed to command 880 Naval Air Squadron; this was based in Orkney as part of 30 Naval Air Wing, which embarked in the fleet carrier Implacable and carried out a series of attacks on German shipping in the fjords of Norway. By the time the war ended 880 Squadron and Implacable were prosecuting the war in the Pacific, striking at the Japanese mainland. Crosley was mentioned in despatches, and in August 1945 received a Bar to his DSC. he finished the war in the Far East, with 5.5 victories. After the war Mike Crosley joined No 6 Empire Test Pilots Course, and left the Navy to test Shorts flying boats under development in Belfast. On the outbreak of the Korean War he rejoined the Navy, helping to train new pilots and flying 75 missions over Korea from the carrier Ocean. He wrote pilots notes for a range of aircraft, which he flew to their limits, and was awarded the Queens Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air. In 1954-55 he was commanding officer of 813 Squadron, flying the Wyvern from the new HMS Eagle. In 1958 Crosley was promoted commander and returned to test flying at Boscombe Down, making the first deck landings of the Buccaneer low-level bomber. Mike Crosley logged 2,818 flying hours in 147 different types of aircraft and made 415 deck landings. Throughout the war he kept extensive diaries, on which he based two books: They Gave Me a Seafire (1986) and In Harms Way (1995). Sadly Mike Crosley died at the age of 90 on the 20th June 2010.|
Group Captain Billy Drake DSO DFC* (deceased)
*Signature Value : £50
|Joined the R.A.F. in 1936. His first posting was to 1 squadron flying Furies then Hurricanes and first saw action over France in the Spring of 1940 and was awarded his first DFC by the end of the year. As a Squadron Leader he was sent to West Africa to command 128 Squadron. 1942 saw his commanding 112 squadron in North Africa, in July saw an immediate BAR to his DFC and in December an immediate DSO. Posted to Malta as Wing Commander he won a US DFC in 1943. Back in the UK he now was flying Typhoons in the lead up to D-Day. With Pete Brothers he was sent to the States to attend the US Staff School at Fort Leavenworth. After the war he continued in the R.A.F. serving in Japan, Malaya, Singapore, Switzerland and his final posting as Group Captain RAF Chivenor, Devon. Retired in July 1963. Going to Portugal where he ran a Bar and Restaurant and dealing in Real Estate. In his flying career he accounted for more than 24 enemy aircraft. Sadly, Billy Drake passed away on 28th August 2011.|
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